What is Peyronie’s disease?
Reviewed by our clinical team
Penises comes in all shapes and sizes, and tend to change in appearance when they’re erect. It’s fairly normal for an erect penis to have a slight curve to it, but this doesn’t usually cause any problems.
In more severe cases, however, a bend in the penis can cause pain and difficulty having sex – this is known as Peyronie’s disease. If you think you might have this condition, it’s important to see your GP.
Symptoms of Peyronie’s
Peyronie’s disease symptoms are quite distinctive and easy to spot. They include:
- A curve in the penis when it’s erect
- Painful erections
- A thickened area or hard lump in the penis
- An abnormal shape to the penis e.g. an hourglass
- A loss of length or thickness
For most men, the symptoms are mild, but some men get painful erections. Sometimes the bend can make intercourse difficult. Some men also experience erection problems - this can be due to reduced blood flow, emotional distress or pain, or a combination of all three.
Causes of Peyronie’s
The distinctive bend in the penis is usually caused by a hard lump known as a plaque building up in one area.
Unfortunately, we don’t understand what causes this. It’s thought that there might be a genetic component (i.e. it runs in families) and that men with conditions like type 1 diabetes and high blood pressure have a higher risk.
An injury, for example a low tackle during rugby or vigorous sex can also cause Peyronie's in some men.
Treatment for Peyronie’s
For men who have Peyronie’s disease, treatment will depend on the severity of the condition, and the kinds of symptoms it’s causing.
If you don’t have pain and if you’re able to have sex normally, you don’t need any treatment. However, if the condition is affecting your sex life and causing a lot of discomfort you could consider some of these treatment options:
Erectile dysfunction tablets
Peyronie’s disease can cause erectile dysfunction (ED), so if this is your main issue, it might be a good idea to try Viagra, or another ED tablet like Cialis or Levitra. Taking ED tablets won’t cure Peyronie’s, but they can help you to have sex again.
ED tablets are available for free if you get them on prescription from your GP. As an alternative, you can request ED tablets through Online Doctor or pop into your nearest LloydsPharmacy to buy Viagra Connect over the counter.
Vacuum or traction devices
A vacuum pump can help to induce an erection if you’re experiencing ED as a result of Peyronie’s. Alternatively, traction devices can be used to straighten your penis and improve length.
Collagenase is a medication that breaks down collagen. In men with more severe Peyronie’s, collagenase injections can help to reduce the thickened area or lump that is causing the curvature. However, these injections aren’t available on the NHS.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)
ESWT is a procedure that applies soundwaves to the hardened area of the penis to break it down – it’s similar to the treatment used to break down kidney stones. Although ESWT is considered safe, it’s not clear how effective it is at treating Peyronie’s
For men with severe Peyronie’s, surgery may be the best course of action. During surgery, your doctor may remove the hardened area, or remove a healthy area of the penis to help “cancel out” the bend. Another option is to implant a device to help straighten the penis.
Peyronie’s disease left untreated
For most men Peyronies' stabilises after about 6 months and doesn't get any worse. About 20% will get a flare-up at some point leading to more pain and a more pronounced bend. About 10% of men find that things improve without any treatment at all.
In general, if you notice any kind of significant change to your penis or your testicles it’s a good idea to visit your GP. A lump on the penis may be a sign of Peyronie’s, or another condition that requires medical attention – learn more here.
Get help with erectile dysfunction from Online Doctor
If you’re struggling to get erections, it’s always worth speaking to your GP to check for any underlying conditions such as Peyronie's, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or an issue with your hormones.